20 foreigners and three Tunisians killed in Tunisian museum massacre

An attack on one of the most tourist places in Tunis has sparked global outrage. According to Tunisian authorities, 23 people have been killed and 49 have been wounded in a museum on Wednesday. The attack is the worst since the attack on the tourist island Djerba in 2002, when 21 foreigners were killed.

Attack

17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians were killed when gunman dressed in military uniforms stormed the national museum Bardo in Tunis on Wednesday.  The attack is one of the worst militant attacks in a country that has largely escaped the turmoil of the ‘’Arab Spring’’.  Among the deaths are five citizens from Japan,  four Italians, two Colombians, two Spaniards; and one citizen each from Poland, Belgium, Great Britain, and France.. The tourists visited the Bardo museum inside the heavily secured parliament compound in central Tunis.

The attack seemed to have been targeted at foreign tourists, as the gunman opened fire on tourists who stepped out of a tourist coach. They then captured tourists in the museum. At least 49 are reported wounded, having British, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Polish and South African citizenships. The hostage crisis lasted multiple hours before Tunisian military stormed the building, killing both gunman.

Responsibility

One of the gunman, named Yassine Laabidi, was reportedly known to Tunisian authorities, though they were not aware of any (direct) link with a terrorist organization. The other perpetrator, Hatem Khachnaoui was not known to authorities, but members of his family have been arrested on Thursday. No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attack. Tunisia, from all Arabic countries, has the largest group jihad fighters who left Tunisia to join to fight with Islamic State in Syria. Worries have been raised previously on what happens to them when they return to their home country. Next to that, several terrorist organizations have emerged in Tunisia in the past few years, and the country is bordering Libya, where forces loyal to Islamic State have continued to take territory to operate from.

Arrests

Four suspects have been arrested in Tunis for links to the attack. The suspects have not been identified nor has been stated what their alleged involvement might have been. In a statement, the presidency stated Tunisia was facing ‘’exceptional circumstances’’, adding that ‘’terrorist operations have now moved from the mountains to the cities’’.

Foreign reactions

In a statement Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said: ‘’I pass this message to Tunisians, that democracy will win and it will survive’’ and ‘’We will find more ways and equipment for the army to wipe out these barbarous groups for good.’’ US Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the ‘’wanton violence’’, while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the ‘’deplorable’’ and ‘’heinous’’ act and conveyed his ‘’deepest sympathies’’ to the victims’ families. French President Francois Hollande expressed his ‘’solidarity’’, saying ‘’every time a terrorist crime is committed, anywhere, we are all concerned.’’

Written by Elske Idzenga

Sources: Al Jazeera, Volkskrant, Tunisia-live, Reuters, BBC, Ibtimes

Aanmelden nieuwsbrief

Meeschrijven voor de FMS? Stuur je inzending (maximaal 400 woorden) naar info@foundationmaxvanderstoel.nl